POWER [July, 1 2011]

Cover Stories

Using Fossil-Fueled Generation to Accelerate the Deployment of Renewables

It may seem counterintuitive, but the strategic coupling of simple- and combined- cycle technologies with renewable generation could establish the conditions necessary for adding more renewable megawatts to transmission grids around the world.


A Level Playing Field No More

FERC has surrendered jurisdiction over station power in California, putting merchant generators nationwide at risk of disadvantage to utility generators.

Charting the Wind: Where the Sector Is Headed

Perhaps the most echoed sentiment at the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA's) WINDPOWER 2011 Conference & Exhibition, which took place May 22 to 25 in Anaheim, Calif., was the call to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC), the industry's policy driver, before it expires at the end of 2012. But that wasn't the only theme. The throngs of companies and organizations that are shaping the rapidly emerging sector around the world had different notions of the factors that help or hinder the growth of wind power, and POWER was there to listen to their perspectives about everything from grid integration, to offshore energy, to technology innovation.

Consolidation, Market Distortions Underlie Remarks by Industry Executives

If you needed additional proof that the power industry is changing, the ELECTRIC POWER keynote and panel discussions over the past few years have provided it—top-of-mind issues have been significantly different each year. For the 2011 keynote speaker and panelists, the challenges of reliability, regulatory compliance, financing, and getting the fuel mix right took center stage. In the wake of Japan’s nuclear crisis, safety also featured prominently.

Defeating Concrete Reinforcing Steel Corrosion

Four concrete cooling towers at a coal-fired electrical generation plant exhibited reinforcing steel corrosion that was causing concrete deterioration. This case study follows the repairs to those towers—how the corrosion control solution was selected, how repairs were made, and how follow-up tests found the repairs to be effective three years later.

FERC Surrenders Jurisdiction over Station Power in California

In a surprising decision, a federal agency surrendered some of its regulatory authority—and parts of the industry don’t approve. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declined to defend its jurisdiction over station power in the California power market, potentially giving an economic advantage to utility generators nationwide and putting merchant generators at a disadvantage.

Hydro: The Forgotten Renewable Rebounds

When President Obama unveiled his “clean energy standard” in the 2011 State of the Union address in February, and again when he spoke of his administration’s energy policy in late March, one form of electrical energy was conspicuous by its absence: hydropower. Hydro is the forgotten form, the politically incorrect renewable, the invisible generation. To borrow the complaint of comedian and Caddyshack movie star Rodney Dangerfield, hydro projects “don’t get no respect.”

Modernizing the Grid, Modernizing Our Industry

David K. Owens, executive vice president, Business Operations Group for the Edison Electric Institute, comments on the progress U.S. utilities are making toward a smarter electrical power grid.

Nuclear Power in the Shadow of Fukushima

Risk, risk management, and the specter of Fukushima ran through the nuclear track at May’s ELECTRIC POWER Conference in Chicago. The reality of risk, driven home by the horrendous events in Japan, was a recurring theme in many presentations, in questions to speakers, and in the conversations among delegates during informal moments.

Solid Fuels: Moving Material and Managing Emissions

In today’s solid-fueled power plant, managing emissions and moving materials more defines the task than the traditional work of making megawatts. That’s the message that emerged from the coal and solid fuels track at this year’s ELECTRIC POWER.

Sunny Days Ahead for Solar

In the U.S., developers of thermal and photovoltaic solar plants face a number of challenges in their efforts to deploy more utility-scale solar power. Some trends, however, are helping solar proponents move this renewable energy source closer to becoming a mainstream generating option.

The Better Environmental Option: Dry Ash Conversion Technology

After the 2008 incident involving the failure of a large surface impoundment containing wet coal ash, the EPA began investigating all coal-fired power plants employing this wet coal ash management method. Now a new dry ash management technology offers coal-fired power plants an environmentally suitable alternative for handling coal ash that also increases energy efficiency.

Titanium Tubing Still Going Strong After 40 Years

Since 1972, titanium-tubed power plant surface condensers have been providing corrosion-free service. Recent process advances are making the material suitable for even more applications.

Underground Coal Gasification: Another Clean Coal Option

Underground coal gasification (UCG) is the gasification of coal in-situ, which involves drilling boreholes into the coal and injecting water/air or water/oxygen mixtures. It combines an extraction process and a conversion process into one step, producing a high-quality, affordable synthetic gas, which can be used for power generation. Still in the early stage of commercialization, UCG is poised to become a future major contributor to the energy mix in countries around the world.

Utilities Increase Renewable Energy Capacity

Driven by state RPS requirements and the desire to diversify their energy sources, U.S. utilities continue to add more renewable power to their generation portfolios. As a result, they must deal with a number of important issues, including resource availability that varies geographically.



Geothermal Projects Race to Meet Incentives Deadlines

At the close of 2009, the U.S. geothermal industry had seen seven new geothermal power plants come online in the previous 12 months. In 2010, only one new power plant was completed.

New Products

Aerogel Coating for Surface Insulation

Massachusetts-based Cabot Corp. recently introduced Enova, an aerogel that is a new high-performance thermal additive designed specifically for insulation coatings. Enova aerogel is designed for application to surfaces that are…

Emergency Lighting Management System

Thomas & Betts’ Emergi-Lite Nexus Emergency Lighting Management System provides real-time status of the entire emergency lighting and exit-sign system, runs system diagnostics, performs required monthly and annual functional tests,…

Microgrid System Controller

Encorp LLC announced the launch of its Microgrid System Controller, which it says is the industry’s first microgrid system controller to connect onsite synchronous generators with renewable energy assets—such as…

New Winding Resistance Meter

The Tettex 2293 from Swiss firm Haefely Test AG is the result of extensive research and years of experience testing transformers. A simple one-time-connection system, together with the simultaneous winding…

Self-Recuperative Burner

Eclipse Inc. introduced the TJSR v5 self-recuperative burner for direct-fired furnace heating applications. The advanced burner design combines a high-velocity flame with fuel-saving recuperation. A space-saving integral eductor pulls the…

Smart Grid–Ready Small Wind Turbine

Distributed wind generator supplier Southwest Windpower unveiled a small wind turbine for commercial and residential use, the Skystream 600, which it claims is the “most efficient power grid-connected turbine in…

Spectrophotometer with Radio Frequency Identification

Hach Co. unveiled its DR 3900 spectrophotometer featuring state-of-the-art radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Hach, which describes the device as being “similar to a GPS telling you when to turn,”…

Legal & Regulatory

California’s New RPS: Opportunity Squandered

In April, California Governor Jerry Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 2 (SB2) into law. When it becomes effective later this year, SB2 will be the primary legislation governing implementation of the California Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program.

Focus on O&M

New Opportunities Abound for Retail Electric Suppliers

Following the conclusion of the KEMA conference (see previous story), Mark Axford had the opportunity to talk with Phillip Tonge, recently appointed president of Spark Energy LP. Spark Energy is a retail energy provider (REP) of electricity and natural gas in 16 states that have opened their markets to competition for industrial, commercial, or residential customers.

Predictive Maintenance That Works

This installment of the series continues our review of different conditioning-monitoring techniques commonly in use at power plants using any generation technology. In the May issue we began exploring specific PdM techniques with an examination of electrical surge comparison and motor-current signature analysis.

Texas Competitive Model Spreads to Pennsylvania and Illinois

A record 400 attendees participated in KEMA’s 22nd annual Executive Forum in San Antonio, Texas, in late April to debate and discuss the “retail resurgence” of competitive electricity sweeping America.

Global Monitor

Carbon Trust: Marine Energy Has High Potential but Faces Several Challenges

In a an analysis released this May, nonprofit UK group Carbon Trust admits that there is “still considerable uncertainty as to whether wave and tidal systems will play a meaningful role in meeting global energy needs,” but it suggests, based on high and low scenarios, that up to 240 GW of marine capacity could be deployed globally by 2050. Roughly 75% of this capacity will come from wave and the remainder from tidal energy.

Germany to Shut Down All Nuclear Reactors

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel at the end of May officially endorsed a plan to shut down all 17 of the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2022. The decision, which gives the power-intensive nation just over a decade to find new sources of power for 23% of its energy needs, has had reverberations all over the world, though the future of nuclear—through growth in developing nations—continues to look sturdy.

Holtec, Westinghouse Roll Out Small Modular Reactor Designs

As the Daiichi nuclear crisis has governments around the world reconsidering their nuclear-heavy energy plans and scrutinizing the safety of existing reactors and third-generation designs, several developers are touting the merits of small modular reactors (SMRs).

POWER Digest (July 2011)

Indonesia Sees Surge in Contracts for New Power Plants. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest economy, but because it is stricken by chronic power shortages that limit economic growth, the nation’s…

Pushing the 60% Efficiency Gas Turbine Barrier

Gas turbine makers GE, Siemens, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in the last week of May separately profiled unprecedented results from development or testing of three innovative combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) technologies.

TEPCO: Most Fuel at Daiichi 1 Melted

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in May discovered—after calibrating water gauges—that the water level in the reactor pressure vessel of Unit 1 at the quake- and tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may have dropped to such low levels that the fuel was completely uncovered. This caused almost all the fuel pellets to melt and fall to the bottom of the vessel at a relatively early stage in the accident—roughly 15 hours after the March 11 earthquake that killed an estimated 28,000.

Speaking of Power

Bad Gas Policy

The late Dr. Carl Sagan once observed, “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology (S&T).” I would add that those who know the least about S&T are often the ones responsible for determining policy and funding priorities. One good example of this problem is the piecemeal approach taken to developing carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies.

GBR Reports